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St. Louis panhandlers organizing to buy drugs and alcohol, police say

ST. LOUIS - We are launching an in-depth investigation into the growing issue of panhandling in the St. Louis area.

You see panhandlers in parking lots, at intersections, on street corners and gas stations.  Men, women and even entire families with small children carry signs saying they are homeless and in need of money.  Our Fox 2 investigation found a ring of panhandlers who meet along Grand Avenue near St. Louis University and then go out to their designated begging locations.

Police say they all use the money to buy drugs or alcohol.  Police have met with them and offered assistance to get them off the streets.  All have refused.

St. Louis University added extra security between their north and south campuses to provide students and people in the area peace of mind.  Police say the move has cut down on the homeless panhandlers in the area. They also say do not give these panhandlers money.  Give to homeless organizations who can provide long-term services to them.

We've been following a family of panhandlers in the St. Louis area.  During our investigation police arrested some of them.  We found 15 people living in one apartment.  They were all driving cars from out of state.  We will show you what investigators found in their apartment as our series on panhandling continues this month.

Panhandling is legal in St. Louis unless the person becomes aggressive.

Organizations that provide services to the homeless: